The United States on Saturday congratulated Taiwan’s president-elect Lai Ching-te, but maintained that Washington does not support independence for the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing.
Asked by reporters for Washington’s position on Taiwan, where independence-leaning Lai has pitched himself as a defender of the island’s democratic way of life, US President Joe Biden said: “We do not support independence.”
In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken saluted Lai on his victory in Saturday’s pivotal vote and hailed the “robust democratic system and electoral process” of the self-ruled island.
Blinken added that Washington is “committed to maintaining cross-Strait peace and stability, and the peaceful resolution of differences, free from coercion and pressure.”
Lai, branded by China as a threat to peace, vowed Saturday to defend Taiwan against “intimidation” from China, after voters defied warnings from Beijing and swept him to election victory.
The United States said earlier this week that it plans to send an unofficial delegation to Taiwan after the vote and warned China against any military provocation.
Beijing reacted by slamming official visits between the island and the United States and called on Washington to “refrain from intervening” in Taiwan’s elections.
In his statement Saturday, Blinken added: “The partnership between the American people and the people on Taiwan, rooted in democratic values, continues to broaden and deepen across economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties.”
Communist China claims democratic Taiwan, separated from the mainland by a 110-mile (180-kilometer) strait, as its own and refuses to rule out using force to bring about “unification,” even if conflict does not appear imminent.